India's COVID-19 vaccination drive: Key challenges and resolutions

Om Prakash Choudhary, Priyanka Choudhary, Indraj Singh
Contd from previous issue
Various SARS-CoV-2 variants have emerged worldwide and been classified as variants of interest, variants of concern, and variants of high consequence on the basis of their impact on transmission, disease severity, diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics.6 In India, variants of interest such as B.1.617 (sub lineages B.1.617.1 [kappa] and B.1.617.3) and B.1.618 have emerged. Currently, the variants of concern B.1.617.2 (delta) and B.1.617.2.1 (delta plus) are spreading quickly across the world, including in India.7 Vaccine efficacy against these variants is a big concern. In a recent study, the effectiveness of Covishield against the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant was found to be only 60%.8 The experience of Seychelles with the potency of the vaccines should concern everyone, especially those in India. Despite fully vaccinating 63% of its population, as of May 15, 2021, Seychelles reported more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than India.
This surge in infections has put the vaccines' effectiveness against novel variants under scrutiny, as well as casting doubt on the lifting of economic and festive restrictions. However, optimism about the vaccines remains as more than 80% of hospital admissions, almost all the severe cases requiring intensive care unit admission, and COVID-19 related deaths have been observed only in the unvaccinated population of Seychelles.10
In conclusion, the Government of India needs to devise effective public health strategies regarding mass vaccination and avoid assembling people at health-care units for vaccination. (To be contd)